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A Winning Disposition

Photo by Mark Lee
Hopkins oncology nurse Janis Whittier had no intention of buying the dog in this photograph. The dog is named Ch. Jaeltrers Jessie of Galway, Jessie to her friends, and she's not just any Kerry blue terrier. She is an American Kennel Club champion, ranked among the best Kerry blues in the nation and recipient of a coveted Award of Merit from the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Whittier, who breeds and raises Kerry blues, has shown dogs since the 1980s but didn't enter Westminster until 1999. "To me, Westminster was for the very rich, and I'm not that type of person. It's like going to Hollywood, you know? Bright lights, famous people...." Jessie took to the spotlight, though, and won her second time around, in 2000. "Some dogs are like,'Get me out of here!' But she always loves to show."

Whittier was not in the market for a new animal when she visited Jessie's breeder. "I went to look at the puppies. We took them all out to play, then put them all back, and Jessie was just staring at me. I had an older dog that was dying of cancer, so I was a little vulnerable. But I said, 'No, no, don't be looking at me.' [We] went out to dinner, then came back, and Jessie did it again. All the other ones are playing and she's just sitting there staring at me." Two weeks later, Whittier bought her.

An oncology nurse for 26 years, Whittier says,"We have such sad stories. You need something to balance that kind of work. I love breeding dogs, showing dogs ... I just love dogs." -- Dale Keiger

Return to September 2002 Table of Contents

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